Drawing of Matej Sternen
As to his schooling, Matej Sternen falls in between the generation of
Slovenian Realists and that of Impressionists. It was through his attitude
towards drawing that he maintained his distinction and his identity. Throughout
his life he emphasized the importance of drawing in the visual arts, but he did
not cultivate it as a discipline on its own. Drawing primarily meant to him a
study tool, and later more and more the keeping up of drawing routine which is
also necessary in the execution of paintings. He believed that the drawing
provided the framework to be filled out by the paint.
A large number of the surviving drawings are collected in sketchbooks.
Even if we understand the sketchbooks as a kind of the painter's intimate
diaries, we observe that in Sternen's case his wife Roza Klein Sternen also
drew in some of his sketchbooks. Because they lived in partnership since they
had met at Ažbe in 1902, their interests and study pursuits ran parallel in
mutual exchange and shared views.
When after the First World War Sternen began teaching drawing at the
School of Architecture and at the Probuda High School of Crafts, and following
his illness in 1928, many of the students’ products remained in his studio in
the following decade. It is still not possible today to distinguish reliably
between his drawings and those of his wife, and one of the important tasks to
fulfil remains to separate the products of the school from his own. Only then
will it be possible to evaluate Sternen's drawing fairly.
Printmaking of Matej Sternen
Printmaking was an experimental field for Matej Sternen. Prints of the
time provided Sternen with a style of drawing that resonates in his earlier
drawings. He tried his hand at drypoint, etching and vernis mou, even in
colour, and monotype in the twenties. After a trip to Paris, he pursued a more
serious study on printmaking techniques. He bought a few manuals, completed his
store of tools and dabbled in graphic terminology. After the start of World War
I, he collaborated with Saša Šantl and Hinko Smrekar.
Many of his lascivious scenes are copied after Félicien Rops, Max
Klinger, artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and after
photographs. They do not manifest a serious effort to reach technical
perfection. Among the artist's original works, the portrait etching of Primož
Trubar has to be pointed out; after the First World War, however, he made some
brilliant monotypes, the most elaborate of which are his own images, of much
higher quality than the painted self-portraits.
Author of the exhibition
Authors of the conservation-restoration exhibitions
Gabrijela Kovačič, Celje Regional Museum
Ajda Mladenović, Institute for the Protecton of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia, Restoration Centre
Mateja Neža Sitar, Institute for the Protecton of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia, Maribor Regional Office
Tina Buh, Nataša Ciber, Mateja Krapež, Kristina Preininger, Alenka Simončič
Conservation and preparation of objects
Exhibition set-up and design
Works of art lent by
National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia
National Galery of Slovenia
Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana
Museum and Galleries of the City of Ljubljana
Government of the Republic of Slovenia
The project was supported by
The National Gallery of Slovenia is part of the Impressionisms Routes
, one of the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe.
1 December 2022 – 9 April 2023
National Gallery of Slovenia
Narodni dom Gallery